Temples (Wats)

Chiang Mai has more than 300 temples (wats) dating back to when the city was originally founded in 1296. Below is a list of the main ones.

Wat Chedi Luang Wat Chedi Luang
This is perhaps Chiang Mai’s most striking relic and was once the most important in the Lanna capital. Dating from 1441, the 91-metre high pagoda was felled to half that height in an earthquake in the late 16th century. To this day the partially renovated chedi remains the tallest structure in the old city and the main attraction. The large Viharn or assembly hall has a brass statue of a standing Buddha installed by King Saen Muang Ma. He also planted the ancient Dipterocarp tree in the grounds. It is believed that a great catastrophe will befall the city when the tree falls. A small cross shaped building adjacent to the tree houses the city pillar dedicated to the spirit of the city. The tree and the spirit are said to protect Chiang Mai from evil and disaster.
Location: Prah Pokklao Road, between Ratchadamnoen Road and Ratchamankha Road

Wat Chiang Mai Wat Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai’s oldest temple began construction shortly after the city’s founding in 1296, and has pretty grounds near the Sriphum corner of the old city. It’s one of the most important historic sites in Chiang Mai and although not as photogenic as other temples (and somewhat neglected), it contains two ancient, diminutive Buddha images; one purported to be almost 2,000 years old. This temple is a good example of classic Lanna architecture.
Location: Noth East corner of the old walled city.

Wat Doi Suthep Wat Doi Suthep
Wat Doi Suthep is famed for its serene and peaceful environment, giving visitors the impression that there really might be angels guarding its pristine beauty. Close enough to be seen from Chiang Mai City, and with a breathtaking view of Thailand’s Northern Capital, the monastery is quiet and peaceful, with ancient trees, birds and the occasional fog covering the grounds.
Location: Above Chaing Mai City on Sri Wichai Road

Wat Jet Yod Wat Jet Yod
Wat Jet Yod is probably one of the least visited major temples. Jet Yod translates to “seven peaks” and refers to the seven chedis which top a structure in the temple complex (left). It’s a very unusual – for Thailand – temple building. That’s because it’s a copy, sort of, of the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodhgaya in India. It was built in the fifteenth century to host the Eighth World Buddhist Council. Nobody seems to know the results of the council, but the temple remains. There’s an uninviting cave-like hall in the rectangular base of the structure supporting the seven chedi, while a more typical modern wiharn stands in front of the old monument.
Location: Between Canal Road and the Super Highway, approximately 1 kilometer from the Super Highway-Huay Kaew Intersection

Wat Phra Singh Wat Phra Singh
Situated in the middle of the old city, this temple contains Chiang Mai’s most important Buddha statue. The recently restored Viharn Lai Kham is a classic example of a Lanna-style viharn while the main viharn (c. 15th century) houses the much venerated Phra Singh Buddha, which has a murky background yet a unique lion-style originating from Sri Lanka. A distinctive, elevated Hoi Tra (scriptures repository) is also on site. The mural paintings on the walls of Wat Phra Singh depict the scenes of Suwannahong and Sang Thong classic literature.
Location: Top of Pra Singh Road at the Singharat – Samlan Road Intersection

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